May 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Helen Regan, Andrew Raine, Ben Church and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT) May 3, 2022
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6:35 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

President Zelensky: Russia has "forgotten all the lessons of World War II"

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey

(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/YouTube)
(Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky/YouTube)

Russia has “forgotten all the lessons of World War II,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a nightly address on Monday, following comments from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Sunday alleging that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood” and that “the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews.”

“Such an anti-Semitic thrust by their minister means Russia has forgotten all the lessons of World War II. Or maybe they never studied those lessons,” Zelensky said.

Lavrov’s remarks also prompted a furious response from Israel, with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calling them “unforgivable and outrageous,” adding that “Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust.”

“Of course, there is a big scandal in Israel today as regards [to] these words. However, no one hears objections or excuses from Moscow. There is silence,” Zelensky said.

“How could this be said on the eve of the anniversary of the victory over Nazism? These words mean that Russia's top diplomat is blaming the Jewish people for Nazi crimes. No words,” Zelensky said.

6:20 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine as soon as May 9, US and Western officials believe

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Katie Bo Llillis, Jennifer Hansler and Alex Marquardt

Russian President Vladimir Putin could move to formally declaring war on Ukraine as soon as May 9, which would allow for the full mobilization of Russia’s reserve forces as they attempt to conquer eastern and southern Ukraine, US and Western officials believe.

May 9, known as Russia’s “Victory Day,” commemorates the Russians’ defeat of the Nazis in 1945. Western officials have long believed that Putin would leverage the symbolic significance and propaganda value of that day to announce either a military achievement in Ukraine, a major escalation of hostilities — or both. 

Officials have begun to hone in on one scenario, which is that Putin formally declares war on Ukraine on May 9. To date, Russian officials have insisted that the conflict was only a “special military operation” with the central goal of “denazification.” 

"I think he will try to move from his 'special operation,’” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC Radio last week. “He's been rolling the pitch, laying the ground for being able to say 'look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people. I need more Russian cannon fodder.’”

Wallace added that he “would not be surprised, and I don't have any information about this, that he is probably going to declare on this May Day that 'we are now at war with the world's Nazis and we need to mass mobilize the Russian people.’”

More context: A formal declaration of war on May 9 could galvanize Russian citizens and surge popular opinion for the invasion. It would also, under Russian law, allow Putin to mobilize reserve forces and draft conscripts, which officials say Russia desperately needs amid a growing manpower shortage. Western and Ukrainian officials have estimated that at least 10,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war since Russia invaded just over two months ago. 

Other options for May 9 include annexing the breakaway territories of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, making a major push for Odesa in the south, or declaring full control over the southern port city of Mariupol. 

The US has “highly credible” intelligence reports that Russia will try to annex Luhansk and Donetsk “some time in mid-May,” the US Ambassador to OSCE Michael Carpenter said on Monday. There are also indications that Russia could be planning to declare and annex a “people’s republic” in the southeastern city of Kherson.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday that there is “good reason to believe that the Russians will do everything they can to use” May 9 for propaganda purposes.

“We've seen the Russians really double down on their propaganda efforts, probably, almost certainly, as a means to distract from their tactical and strategic failures on the battlefield in Ukraine,” Price said at a State Department briefing.

Price added that he had “seen the speculation that Russia may formally declare war” on May 9, and said, “that would be a great irony if Moscow used the occasion of 'Victory Day' to declare war, which in itself would allow them to surge conscripts in a way they're not able to do now, in a way that would be tantamount to revealing to the world that their war effort is failing, that they are floundering in their military campaign and military objectives."

“I'm quite confident that we'll be hearing more from Moscow in the lead up to May 9,” Price added. “I'm quite confident that you will be hearing more from the United States, from our partners, including our NATO partners, in the lead up to May 9 as well.”

 

6:11 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

UK PM will tell Ukrainian parliament that in its greatest peril, Ukraine is living through its "finest hour"

From CNN’s Niamh Kennedy and Stephanie Halasz in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to tell the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, that Ukraine is living through its “finest hour.” 

Johnson will address the parliament via video link on Tuesday, according to a Downing Street news release.  

In his speech, the prime minister will draw a parallel between the Ukrainian parliament and the British parliament which during World War II “continued to meet throughout the conflict.” 

“The British people showed such unity and resolve that we remember our time of greatest peril as our finest hour," Johnson will say, according to the news release. “This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national story that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come."

He will also tell Ukrainian lawmakers how Britain is “proud to be among Ukraine’s friends.” 

“Your children and grandchildren will say that Ukrainians taught the world that the brute force of an aggressor counts for nothing against the moral force of a people determined to be free,” Johnson will say. 

The prime minister will also lay out Tuesday a new package of $375 million (300 million pounds) in support for Ukraine, according to Downing Street. 

The package will include electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices, according to the news release. 

Johnson’s address is set to coincide with the reopening of the British embassy in Kyiv which closed in late February just before the war started. 

 

6:04 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

It's after midnight in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN staff

A large smoke plume rises over Mariupol, Ukraine, in the vicinity of Azovstal steel plant on Monday, May 2.
A large smoke plume rises over Mariupol, Ukraine, in the vicinity of Azovstal steel plant on Monday, May 2. (From Telegram)

Ukrainian fighters hope to evacuate the 100 adults and 20 children still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, located near the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. 

In an interview with Reuters Monday, Deputy Commander of the Azov regiment Sviataslav Palamar described the mixed feelings he experienced when civilians were safely evacuated from the steel works on Sunday after weeks of being trapped there. 

Palamar said he felt “joy through tears” seeing the civilians leave the steelworks, stressing that during the time they were trapped “thousands of people have died.”

“I do hope they will be another round of evacuations and they will be able to take out those civilians who are still here in this plant. We are talking about 20 children. That's what we've counted — and 100 civilians, women, elderly people,” Palamar said. 

The Ukrainian authorities had plans to rescue people trapped under the rubble on Monday but were unable to do to so due to non-stop artillery fire from Russian soldiers, Palamar said. 

Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:

  • Azovstal steel plant under "constant fire" on Monday, officer said: A commander among the Ukrainian soldiers at the besieged Azovstal steel plant says the complex has been under "constant fire" since early Monday. Mykhailo Vershynin, chief of the Mariupol Patrol Police, told CNN that "after the Red Cross mission left, we have been under constant fire since the early morning. Artillery and naval artillery are firing non-stop. Air strikes are constantly being launched." About 100 civilians were evacuated from the plant Sunday, but a further planned evacuation for Monday did not take place. 
  • There will be civilian evacuations from Mariupol Tuesday, city council says: There will be a civilian evacuation on Tuesday in Mariupol, according to the city council's Telegram channel. The agreement, according to the Mariupol City Council, was officially agreed upon with assistance from the United Nations and the Red Cross. Although it will evacuate Mariupol citizens, the convoy will actually be leaving from a roundabout near Berdiansk, a Russian-occupied city to the west of Mariupol, at 7 a.m. local time.
  • 5 Russians were killed at Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant, Ukrainian soldiers say: The Azov Regiment, whose soldiers continue to resist Russian forces at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, says five Russian soldiers were killed late Monday during an attempted assault on the plant. "After the partial evacuation of civilians from the territory of Azovstal in Mariupol, the enemy continues to fire on the territory of the plant, including buildings where civilians are hiding from danger, to carry out air strikes, fire using naval artillery and tanks," it claimed on its Telegram channel, adding that five "enemy occupiers were destroyed" during an assault on the complex. 
  • US welcomes reports that some civilians have been able to evacuate Mariupol: The United States welcomes reports that “some civilians have been able to evacuate Mariupol” and encourages “continued efforts" to allow civilians to depart the southern port city and other cities under siege, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday. “We want to make sure that the limited humanitarian access we've seen in recent hours is not fleeting. Doing so would demonstrate that there may be a genuine humanitarian intent behind this evacuation and not just another craven attempt on the part of the Kremlin to change the narrative, to achieve a PR victory,” Price said during a State Department briefing.
  • There are currently no plans for Biden to travel to Ukraine, White House says: There are currently no plans for US President Joe Biden to travel to Ukraine, despite travel to the region from Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the last several weeks, the White House told CNN Monday. “Well, there's no plans in the works at this time, and obviously, we'll continue to assess,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins at Monday’s White House press briefing. “And as you know, we our objective is to reopen the embassy, to have our diplomats back there, not just traveling back and forth, but present in the country, and I know the President would love to visit Ukraine, but not, no plans in the works at this point.” Ahead of Russia’s “Victory Day,” a prominent holiday that marks Nazi surrender in World War II, Psaki did hint the US would have more to convey to “mark our support for the Ukrainians and the Europeans in some capacity” in the coming days. She declined to offer specifics. Officials tell CNN Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to be able to celebrate a victory – of some kind – in his war on that day.
  • US intel reports Russia will try to annex Donetsk and Luhansk regions by "mid-May," ambassador says: The US has “highly credible” intelligence reports that Russia will try to annex the separatist-occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk “some time in mid-May,” and that there are plans to create a similarly so-called “people’s republic” in Kherson to be annexed as well, the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said. “The reports state that Russia has plans to engineer referenda on joining Russia some time in mid-May, and that Moscow is considering a similar plan for Kherson,” said Ambassador Michael Carpenter at a news briefing at the State Department.
  • Casualties in missile attack against Odesa: A missile was fired Monday at "one of Odesa's infrastructure facilities," said Maksym Marchenko, head of the Odesa region military administration. "Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded," he said. Separately, the Ukrainian military's Command South reported, "Another missile strike in the Odesa region. There were hits to the city infrastructure. In particular, one of the religious buildings was damaged. Information about the victims is being clarified." A journalist in Odesa told CNN an Orthodox church had been hit near the civilian airport. 
  • Ukraine claims more success in taking territory around Kharkiv: The Ukrainian military has confirmed that its forces have won back control of several settlements to the north and east of Kharkiv, potentially making it more difficult for the Russians to launch missile and artillery attacks against the northeastern city. Ruska Lozova — a village north of Kharkiv — "returned to our control despite aggravation and losses," the military said Monday. The military also said the village of Verkhnya Rohanka in the east of Kharkiv was back in Ukrainian hands, and that the operation had been led by Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, the commander of land forces. In the past two weeks, Ukraine has reclaimed about a half dozen villages in the area, bringing its forces slightly closer to Russian supply lines that run from the border to Izium.

5:20 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

There will be civilian evacuations from Mariupol on Tuesday, city council says

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy, Josh Pennington and Tim Lister

There will be a civilian evacuation on Tuesday in Mariupol, according to the city council's Telegram channel. 

The agreement, according to the Mariupol City Council, was officially agreed upon with assistance from the United Nations and the Red Cross.

Although it will evacuate Mariupol citizens, the convoy will actually be leaving from a roundabout near Berdiansk, a Russian-occupied city to the west of Mariupol, at 7 a.m. local time.

4:38 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

New images show evacuation efforts from Mariupol steel plant

From CNN's Bernadette Tuazon

Members of the Ukrainian National Guard assist a civilian as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant on Sunday.
Members of the Ukrainian National Guard assist a civilian as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant on Sunday. (Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard/AP)

On Sunday, more than 100 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Sunday evening that for the first time, the vital corridor to evacuate civilians from the plant had started working, paving the way for them to pass through.

This was short-lived, however, as Russian shelling once again intensified and put a halt to further rescue efforts, commander of the 12th brigade of the National Guard Denis Schlegar said.

These images were taken on Sunday during the partial evacuation. They were only transmitted on Monday.

People walk over debris at the Azovstal steel plant during the evacuation.
People walk over debris at the Azovstal steel plant during the evacuation. (Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard/AP)

Ukrainian National Guardsmen assist a civilian over a pile of debris as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant.
Ukrainian National Guardsmen assist a civilian over a pile of debris as they try to help them leave the Azovstal steel plant. (Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard/AP)

4:30 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

State Department: US welcomes reports that some civilians have been able to evacuate Mariupol

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The United States welcomes reports that “some civilians have been able to evacuate Mariupol” and encourages “continued efforts" to allow civilians to depart the southern port city and other cities under siege, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday.

“We want to make sure that the limited humanitarian access we've seen in recent hours is not fleeting. Doing so would demonstrate that there may be a genuine humanitarian intent behind this evacuation and not just another craven attempt on the part of the Kremlin to change the narrative, to achieve a PR victory,” Price said during a State Department briefing.

Price noted the US is in communication with the international organizations involved in evacuation efforts “because we know that humanitarian corridors are absolutely critical to evacuating citizens and providing urgently needed humanitarian aid.”

7:45 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Source: Only "a few hundred thousand dollars left" of $3 billion in Biden's drawdown authority for Ukraine

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

There is only “a few hundred thousand dollars left” out of the $3 billion in presidential drawdown authority (PDA) funding the Biden administration has been using to supply Ukraine with military assistance, a Senate aide told CNN. 

“The PDA is very close to exhausted,” the aide said.

The $3 billion in PDA funding was included in the $13.6 billion Ukraine aid supplemental that was passed along with the massive omnibus spending bill on March 15.

The PDA funding is one of the primary ways the US is helping supply Ukraine with military assistance during the ongoing war countering Russia’s invasion of the country. It is “authorization from the President to pull from our own stocks,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said during a briefing Monday.

There have been eight packages of military assistance authorized by the Biden administration through PDA funding. The last one was signed by Biden on April 21. As of April 28, the Biden administration had $250 million left in PDA funding, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the White House press briefing last week.

Last week, the Biden administration asked Congress to pass another $33 billion in funding to provide additional military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. This proposal would put $5 billion back into PDA funding, the Senate aide said.

As CNN’s Manu Raju reported earlier, congressional sources involved in discussions over the Ukraine funding bill do not expect that the package will come together this week. The sources said there are still many issues to sort through on the package, and it will likely take at least a couple of weeks to get the bill language sorted out.

CNN's MJ Lee contributed reporting to this post.

4:27 p.m. ET, May 2, 2022

Ukrainian fighters hope to evacuate 100 civilians and 20 children still trapped in Mariupol's Azovstal plant

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London 

Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, following heaving Russian bombardment.
Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, following heaving Russian bombardment. (Andrey Borodulin/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian fighters hope to evacuate the 100 adults and 20 children still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, located near the southern city of Mariupol. 

In an interview with Reuters Monday, Deputy Commander of the Azov regiment Sviataslav Palamar described the mixed feelings he experienced when civilians were safely evacuated from the steel works on Sunday after weeks of being trapped there. 

Palamar said he felt “joy through tears” seeing the civilians leave the steelworks, stressing that during the time they were trapped “thousands of people have died.”

“I do hope they will be another round of evacuations and they will be able to take out those civilians who are still here in this plant. We are talking about 20 children. That's what we've counted — and 100 civilians, women, elderly people,” Palamar said. 

The Ukrainian authorities had plans to rescue people trapped under the rubble on Monday but were unable to do to so due to non-stop artillery fire from Russian soldiers, Palamar said. 

“There are people in the rubble. We hear them talking but we're not able to do anything,” the deputy commander emphasized. 

He said the work “would have been 90% easier if we would have been given special equipment” and would have “saved lives of servicemen.”

Palamar also highlighted the plight of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who he said is shouldering the “great responsibility” of the Azovstal evacuations as the “commander-in-chief.”